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Book Report About The Innocent Man English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1069 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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John Grisham is a well known modern American writer, the author of many bestsellers (the so-called “legal thrillers”), that were filmed in Hollywood. “The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town” is a John Grisham’s first book  written in the genre of documentary detective. 

Speaking about the plot of the book, above all it is worth noting that the “Innocent man” is a documentary novel. John Grisham, who has a philosophical look at the sad things, once learned a story about innocent prisoners on death penalty, and having studied it in every detail, had the courage to write the book which reveals all the truth. The author tells the story about the real criminal case, reveals the secrets of the investigation and trial, and also characterizes the work of the police in this example. 

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“The Innocent Man” is a tragic story of a young man, once famous athlete Ron Williamson, who was convicted for the murder, which he did not commit. The author says that in this book he tried to show a very real criminal case, the tragic story of the unjustly convicted man, who was on death row. In fact, there are tens and hundreds of such stories in America. Author Grisham knows about this, as since the late 90’s he studied the history of criminal trials, when sometimes convictions were imposed to innocent people. In the author’s afterword the reader will find quite horrible facts of the investigative and judicial tyranny in America.

The story of Ron Williams is that he was accused in the murder of Debbie Carter. Debbie was brutally murdered in her own home, and police needed at all costs to reveal a crime, regardless of the fact that it was not enough evidence and testimony in this case. Suspicion fell on Ron Williams, primarily because of his poor reputation and personal characteristics: “after failing to make a career of baseball, he became an alcoholic and drug user, and he had some mental disorder (namely bipolar disorder, and schizophrenic ideas). It is important that Ron was charged with DUIs and two rapes, although he was acquitted of those rape charges. So a man like Ron became a good variant for police as a suspect in the murder of Debbie Carter.

It is worth pointing that none of the witnesses who last saw Debbie alive that evening at the club did not mention Ron, that is, there was no direct evidence against him. In this case, police had not focused on other suspect Glen Gore, who many times was mentioned in the testimonies of witnesses: he was seen that night with Carter, that is, in principle, the facts that say about his candidacy as the main suspect. But the police chose Ron Williams, that says about incompetence of the police in the process of investigation. 

Also the police suspected that there were two murders, even there was little evidence for that, and Williamson’s friend, Dennis Fritz was suspected to be also involved. Despite the lack of evidence against Fritz, he was examined and the examiner found his answers evasive. So Fritz was arrested, tried and convicted. When conducting a criminal investigation and interrogation, it showed no direct evidence of guilt of the accused, especially of Fritz, against whom there was practically no evidence. Nevertheless, police made misrepresentations of facts, pressured suspects and other witnesses to bring the case to an end. In this case, in fact the prime suspect should have been Gore, who was seen with Carter and was known as a person she feared, who might have killed her. So it remains unclear why the police did not investigate Glen Gore’s possible involvement in Debbie Carter’s murder. (Call, 2007)

This is a tragic story of one character, but it hides a deeper meaning, namely the problem of fairness of justice. For justice is an area where there is no place for mistakes, since each case means a person’s fate. The main issues addressed in the book are: How an innocent man could appear in death row? Why trial is conducted with serious violations? How much time and efforts are necessary for lawyers to save a life of a bruised man? These questions are answered by John Grisham in his remarkable book.

The main idea of the book is the idea of a defenseless of a man when he deals with government, which echoes with the theme of an evil fate. After all, the hero was unjustly convicted, and could not do anything about it, that shows the brutality of the state justice system to the fate of people. This topic is painful for Americans, who are proud of the country judicial system, which in reality is far from ideal (we can remember many literary works and many movies on this topic). 

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The main importance of the novel “Innocent Man” is its vitality. To write it, the author visited Ada, a town where the murder occurred, visited the court, prison, numerous coffee shops, where he talked with the heroes of his future book. He visited the old and the new death row at Macalester, the office of the Project “Innocence” in New York to gather necessary materials.  Those travels while the work on a book opened to Grisham the world of innocent prisoners. Especially judicial errors are typical for the South America, where the author was born, but in fact they occur rather often and practically in all states. The reasons for that are always different, but the most common are the unfair work of police, unqualified examinations, false testimonies, poor work of lawyers, laziness and arrogance of prosecutors.

But, nevertheless, the fact that Ron Williamson was  justified, after years spent on death row, shows that there are people (lawyers, journalists) who care about the fate of those who are in prison under false and unjust accusations. In the book the author very clearly shows the unskilled police work, and mutual responsibility between the parties to the investigation process, and the indifference of those who were considering a case in court, and the absence of any control system. 

In conclusion, I want to say that John Grisham is the master of detective genre. “Innocent Man” is a book in the documentary genre, which has prompted the author to the maximum responsibility for his words, sharpened his observation skills, and made the extremely topical and realistic.


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